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back to article If Google got a haircut, a tie and a suit, would it be Microsoft?

Prepare yourself. It's a new month, and that can only mean a tsunami of articles on the popularity of Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox will flood the globe's news aggregators. For non-mobile computers, March followed the trend emerging over the past 12 months: growth for Chrome, a drop in use of IE and Firefox stuck in a …

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Google vs Microsoft

I don't mind Google sharing the browser market*, or the email client market*, or the productivity suite market* with Microsoft. Competition is a great thing for the end user. It was a lack of competition that resulted in the execrable IE6, or Windows ME.

What I really would mind was Google displacing MS at the top of the heap. That "do no evil" plaque is already looking tarnished, and a market dominance in areas other than ads would hasten its demise, I'm sure.

* Yes, I am aware that other products exist, but you know what I mean.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google vs Microsoft

It's literally impossible for any company to be nice, they all have to "grow" and run a profit. But obviously you can return a good profit merely by dodging tax which is definitely evil, you're simply not contributing to infrastructure investment your business so sorely needs.

Google, Apple and Microsoft are all as bad as each other. But all have contributed to open source quite heavily, so to talk about not using any of their products is stupid (yes you Eadon).

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AC @ 12:49 - Re: Google vs Microsoft

Wrote :- "Google, Apple and Microsoft are all as bad as each other. But all have contributed to open source quite heavily"

A bit rich to describe MS as "contributed heaviliy". AFAIR, about the only thing MS have contributed is code to enable Windows to work with Linux in virtualisation situations, an exception that was in their own interest. And they only released the source of that code in response to legal challenge. Apple .. don't know, but I am aware of CUPS, Webkit, what else?

Both are in the noise level compared with Google's contributions.

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Re: AC @ 12:49 - Google vs Microsoft

Microsoft have done a lot of F/OSS lately - not just *gasp* - the whole of ASP.NET, but others including WebMatrix, Hadoop/Mongo/etc connectors for Azure and SQL Server, WP8 SDK, ASP.NET MVC, WebPI, Entity Framework, Reactive Extensions, and more.

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Re: Google vs Microsoft

"It's literally impossible for any PUBLICLY TRADED company to be nice, "

Fixed it for you. The privately owned ones can be turds as well, but at least there is a CHANCE ...

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Re: Google vs Microsoft

"It's literally impossible for any company to be nice..."

I'm not sure I agree with you there. The company I work for is profitable, successful, growing and has a genuinely earned reputation for being super-nice*. And this isn't a marketing gimmick, it's just how the company is run. It's a priority for the founders, the executive team and everyone down to the new hires.

Here's a clue: part of the reason we do well is because people love doing business with us, and word spreads. Helps that we're also shit-hot. ;)

So, not impossible, but not common either, more's the pity...

* 'Scuse Americanism, but it is an American company...

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Re: AC @ 12:49 - Google vs Microsoft

MS big contribtuion was a general operating system that was not tied to proprietary hardware. It allowed huge competition from compenent and PC companies that drove prices down. Without MS, the Apple model would have domintated and $500 computers would be $5k each and without the current capability.

Personally not a big MS fan but you have to acknowledge that their operating systems which were compatible with such a wide range of equipment was key in shaping the market. Making OS that were compatible with a huge range of hardware, tossed together by DIYers all over the world is not a mean achievement. Much easier if you control the hardware and write the OS for that equipment.

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@etaletc

Sorry, but no. Hardware-agnostic operating systems already existed before MS-DOS, and there was plenty of competition that drove computer prices far below $5K. Many computers from Commodore, Atari, etc. were typically in the $300-$1000 range (in 1980s dollars to be sure, but nevertheless what you're claiming is demonstrably false).

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Headmaster

@ etaletc - Re: AC @ 12:49 - Google vs Microsoft

etaletc wrote :- "MS big contribtuion was a general operating system that was not tied to proprietary hardware........ you have to acknowledge that [MS] operating systems which were compatible with such a wide range of equipment was key in shaping the market... Much easier if you control the hardware and write the OS for that equipment."

CP/M was a general OS too, and UNIX has already been mentioned. In the period we are discussing, MS was tied to the Intel x86 processor (no hardware competition there for many years), and other than the processor, generic keyboard, 80x25 monitor, and disk drive they did not "write the OS for the equipment". Makers of printers, network cards, video cards , and even mice had to wrote their own drivers for DOS and Windows. Having got to a dominant position, MS only needed to lean back and let them do it.

That happened back then because the HW makers and (especially) the PC press picked MS almost at random as the horse to back - once some had picked it, the others had to follow even with misgivings. They could just as well have picked CP/M 86 [www.landley.net/history/mirror/cpm/history.html].

The price is a red herring. The personal computer revolution was happening MS or not, and with mass adoption prices would have tumbled anyway. In fact it shocks me how HIGH Microsoft have managed to maintain their prices considering their vast sales volumes.

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Linux

Re: AC @ 12:49 - Google vs Microsoft

> MS big contribtuion was a general operating system that was not tied to proprietary hardware

AT&T and Digital Research already had that one covered.

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Devil

Re: Google vs Microsoft

You should be happy for ANY company to replace Microsoft you might think Google's "do no evil" is tarnished but Microsoft has actually been found guilty multiply times for market fixing, abuse of monopoly position and bribery.

Who could do any worse ?

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Linux

Re: AC @ 12:49 - Google vs Microsoft

The key was that IBM published the technical specifications of the IBM PC, just as they did for their larger, more expensive, products. That openness allowed other companies to supply add-in boards and peripherals that IBM did not supply, and when the BIOS was cloned, complete compatible systems could be produced.

As a *nix-based Brit, I do not know the exact details of MS's behaviour from personal experience, but the gist seemed to be 1. they promised system producers to undercut the prices of their OS competiors and 2. they would supply MSDOS even cheaper, if the manufacturers didn't offer a competing OS at all. This uncompetitive behaviour was eventually stopped, but too late for the competition.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AC @ 12:49 - Google vs Microsoft

It's not anti competitive (per se) to say that "if you supply only our products, they'll be cheaper than if you supply our rival's products.". The problem comes when you are preventing competition by charging too much for a too popular product.

Now, the thing that people forget about MS and their earlier products was that they killed the "Big Iron" UNIX and mini manufacturers' monopoly on the datacentre. In the late 80s/early 90s, if you wanted a file server, your choice was Novel, or Big Iron. MS came along and slashed the cost for a file server. Sure, they weren't as reliable as minis or unix, but they were good enough for a better than good enough product.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AC @ 12:49 - Google vs Microsoft

That's not FOSS, that's POSS.

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FAIL

Re: AC @ 12:49 - Google vs Microsoft

What about TypeScript?

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Holmes

Re: @ Eadon - AC @ 12:49 - Google vs Microsoft

*patient tone* Eadon, you're generalising. And all generalists look like muppets (see what I did there?).

ASP.NET, WebMatrix, the WP8 SDK, ASP.NET MVC, Entity Framework, and Reactive Extensions are not plugins that talk to MS Tech.

While we're here - your OS history is somewhat lacking.

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Childcatcher

Re: Google vs Microsoft

Once upon a time Microsoft were the good guys: they brought light to the darkness that was the PC. Then they became commercial and turned into the name you love to hate.

So we then got Google and I admit to being an original Google user. They brought light to the darkness which was the Internet and we believed the "do no evil" motto. But as ever the road to hell is paved with good intentions and Google morphed into another Money Munching Monster.

So where do we go now for honesty. For some time best value has been Firefox. OK so money is an issue but I get the feeling that Mozilla is made up of people who just want to make a living out of making things work and giving a service, not this Mega Money Madness that has struck others. So more power to Mozilla I say.

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Google's sudden cancellation of services is the big question mark hanging over them for corporate adoption.

How can I be sure that a particular service or API will not be dropped at a quarter's notice?

Few other corporations induce such opening questions.

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Devil

It's quite easy to predict, if MS or Apple suddenly support it then odds on that Google will drop it.

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AFAIK Google only cancles free services suddenly. For instance ActiveSync is still offered for users of paid Google App services.

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Another one knocked on the head suddenly is CalDev, even if you've got a paid-for Google account. You can find a full list in an El Reg story from a few weeks ago.

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Anonymous Coward

This is the whole problem with the freetard model.

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Anonymous Coward

@volsano - You seem to be pretty young and uninformed

There is a lawsuit still going on after more than a decade between Novell (I doubt you've heard of them, they're gone now) and Microsoft on the exact same topic. Microsoft actively encouraged Novell to use a certain API which then has been dropped (by Microsoft of course) at a quarter's notice as you like to say. And there's more in case you want to know, and it is mostly about Microsoft.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @volsano - You seem to be pretty young and uninformed

An API dropped with a quarter's notice doesn't stop what's working now from working. Google dropping a service with a quarter's notice really hits customers where it hurts.

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FAIL

Apart from the fact that the company has to upgrade to something new from XP and IE6 BECAUSE MICROSOFT IS DROPPING SUPPORT!

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 14:26GMT - Re: @volsano - You seem to be pretty young and uninformed

And in your opinion reducing Novell Wordperfect into ashes didn't hurt any consumer, is it? Just go ahead, read the court documents and come back here.

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There is always MS doing that.

Just look at the lawsuits over it.

MS did exactly that to Wordperfect...

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Anonymous Coward

Dropping support from XP or IE6 isn't with short notice - They were released in 2001, people have had well publicised timetables for support since the inception of the product. If you don't know that it's going out of support, it's your problem not anyone else's.

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Windows

Mozilla

What Mozilla needs to do is make an admin control panel, and MSI, and extol the virtues of Firefox LTS and make all three easily findable from the front page under 'Firefox for business' or something. There are third parties that help with admin and MSIs but Mozilla really needs to do that itself. Relatively little effort yet it would signal that they're serious about enterprise and there's no question whatsoever about privacy, unlike Chrome.

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Anonymous Coward

@Dan55 - Re: Mozilla

1. Try to type about:config in the URL field of Mozilla and you'll get your control panel

2. I was not aware Google Chrome has an LTS version and an admin control panel.

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Internet Explorer 6 staggers on?

Check the analytic's for El Reg and tell us the % of people using IE6 still.

Its depressing having to design sites that view perfectly in this crappy system, but it needs to be done. While many people have shiny modern browsers at home and on their portable devices, the VAST majority of web surfers are doing it from this shitty works laptop/PC.

And they all use IE6

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Re: Internet Explorer 6 staggers on?

Seeing as the audience of The Register is predominantely IT literate I suspect very few IE6 users will appear in its website stats. For the past year I have refused to even check compatibility of any websites in IE6, let alone spend time recoding for the extremely limited number of users who might access any the websites I create. My customers are also unwilling to pay more for the additional time this would take.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Internet Explorer 6 staggers on?

IT literacy in the workforce doesn't equal IT literacy in the organisation. Despite working for an IT consultancy, of all things, I'm stuck with IE8 for internet access. There's an uphill struggle happening to get Chrome as an alternative browser which I expect will pay off by the end of the decade...

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Re: Internet Explorer 6 staggers on?

Well I've just check Google Analytics for the main website I run, which has a large number of visitors from emerging countries such as India and the Phillipines, and IE6 usage is running at under 2% down from nearer 15% a year ago. But I take your point about IT Literacy in workforce not equalling it in the Organisation. But still I would be surprised if there were very many IE6 users in The Register site stats.

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Re: Internet Explorer 6 staggers on?

Microsoft's own upgrade-from-IE6 website http://www.ie6countdown.com/ (which uses statistics from http://netmarketshare.com/ ) indicates that the Far East is really the only outpost left where IE6 has significant usage share on the open web. Well, let's be honest: China. In the UK it's well below 1%.

NetMarketShare weight their statistics - gathered from tracking bugs on websites using HitsLink, I believe - by overall internet traffic from each country, to rebalance the distribution of users of their customers' websites. StatCounter do not do this. It does mean there could be big sampling errors if relatively few users from China are browsing sites that use HitsLink.

I'm still not sure how well these companies deal with Network Address Translation, having multiple computers behind a single public IP address. The Far East notoriously also has very few public IPv4 addresses, with NATs being widely deployed. If the counter cannot see through the NAT, it will record a count of 1 for each browser used behind the NAT regardless of whether there is one instance or a million, heavily distorting the results.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Internet Explorer 6 staggers on?

Google Chrome and/or Firefox Portable is your friend. You may want to fake the user agent to fulfill the lust for power of your fascist, Microsoft minded security/network admins.

Anyway don't let yourself be fooled, IT consultancy does not always equal what you would expect.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Internet Explorer 6 staggers on?

We tried Chrome Frame and Firefox Portable, but we have some pretty strict application whitelisting software too...

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Re: Internet Explorer 6 staggers on?

I'm a freelance web designer, when I have the time, and I flat out refuse to design for IE6. If it doesn't render standards-complaint code, it can sod off. Luckily, the vast majority of browsers actually do that these days.

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Firefox seems to suck badly in a corporate environment

It relies on weird profiles, which are often incompatible across different versions. At a large licence funded media organisation I worked at, I saw it frequently. As "hot desking" (ugh) was the norm, if someone switched from a machine running Firefox 9 to 12, for example, their favourites may not be visible. It caused no end of headaches to users who had been encouraged to use the browser for certain in-house applications before Chrome had existed as a serious alternative.

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Re: Firefox seems to suck badly in a corporate environment

"hot desking" (ugh)

Right.

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Re: Google winning the browser wars - not as scary as the dark days of IE

Forking (fragmentation) is seriously desktop Linux back, why would fragmentation help with browsers?

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Devil

Re: Google winning the browser wars - not as scary as the dark days of IE

If Chrome totally dominates, there can continue to be forks of their browser with any undesirable parts stripped out. Most people will use the official versions for convenience and geeks the unofficial versions cleansed of evil.

When Chrome was first released I gave it a test drive and was somewhat surprised to see that whenever I logged in to an SSL site Chrome also made an SSL connection to a Google-owned server. I then tried the supposedly flea-free version known as SWIron. It had the same behaviour despite claims that dodgy code had been removed. Neither got a second chance.

Firefox all the way here. It's the only one I feel I can trust.

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Re: Google winning the browser wars - not as scary as the dark days of IE

@Eadon: So where does one download the source to Google Apps then? And why have Google ditched CalDAV in favour of their own proprietary calendaring API? They're no more "pro Open Source" than Microsoft are, except when it suits them to be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google winning the browser wars - not as scary as the dark days of IE

Sorry but some of the largest proprietary patent hungry software houses are the biggest contributors to open source, so you pathetic crusade against Microsoft is pointless.

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